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With: Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, Cayden Boyd, David Arquette, Kirsten Davis, George Lopez, Jacob Davich, Sasha Pieterse
Written by: Robert Rodriguez, Marcel Rodriguez
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action and some rude humor
Running Time: 94
Date: 06/10/2005

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Fin City

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As if to make up for the ultraviolence in his Sin City, Robert Rodriguezbrings out his second film of the year, the family-friendly adventureThe Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. In this new film, a youngboy, Max (Cayden Boyd) dreams that he meets two child superheroes,Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner) and Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley). Max is unable toconvince anyone that they actually exist until they show up in hisclassroom and whisk him away to Planet Drool, where only he can helpsave the day. As in Spy Kids 3, Rodriguez presents a good portion of theaction in 3-D, and audience members are asked to don or remove theirglasses at crucial points. Rodriguez is nothing if not enthusiastic, andhe packs his film with dozens of jokes and ideas, no matter how silly.But Rodriguez is a long way off from the energy of the original SpyKids, and the difference lies between the definitions of "childlike" and"childish." His own children are old enough now to help him with hisstorytelling duties, and Rodriguez is so charmed by parenthood that hecan no longer edit out the stuff that doesn't work. Great chunks ofSharkboy and Lavagirl simply embarrass with their infantile thoughtpatterns and their anxious attempt to appeal to young viewers. Moreover,the filmmaker has developed a slightly disturbing penchant for close-upson Lavagirl and her dazzling Denise Richards-like smile. Several adultsalso appear in the film with significantly less to do: David Arquetteand Kristin Davis ("Sex and the City") as Max's parents and George Lopezin a dual role as Max's teacher and the digitally enhanced bad guy Mr.Electric.

DVD Details: Miramax/Dimension's new DVD actually presents the film in 3D, and the DVD comes with four pairs of 3D glasses. Families with more than four members or viewers who get headaches can also select a 2D option. It would be great if studios could do this kind of thing with the classic 3D films (Creature from the Black Lagoon, House of Wax, Dial M for Murder, etc.) Otherwise the new disc comes with a Robert Rodriguez commentary track and making-of featurette. The film is mastered in 1.85:1 with 5.1 sound optional Spanish subtitles.

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